Big league calling

Excitement will be the constant factor in the Indian Premier League, but as far as the players and the teams go, there is bound to be a lot of ups and downs during the course of the tournament, writes W. V. Raman.

The dust has settled with regard to the controversies post the last edition of the Indian Premier League; the disappointment of the Indian fans of not seeing Team India retain the World Cup too would have ebbed, and now it is time for yet another edition of the IPL.

Brand IPL, however, needed reinforcement, and it came from Steve Smith, who attributed his success in the ODIs to the League. He had a great Australian summer and now it is time for him to turn it on for Rajasthan Royals. He has been a finisher for RR over the years, and now it will be interesting to see if his role will be redesigned given his phenomenal success for Australia at the top of the order.

There is no doubt that Smith will be the cynosure this IPL, but Sunil Narine is another player who will be watched with great interest. He was banned from bowling during the Champions League last year. The West Indian took the ban in the same vein that he plays his cricket — without much ado. Since then, Narine has been working on remodelling his action to be back in the fold during the IPL. The Kolkata Knight Riders camp will be relieved that the BCCI has cleared his action, but the most interesting thing will be to see how efficient he will be with his new action. After bowling in a particular fashion for years, it will be a great test for Narine in terms of adaptability and patience.

I say adaptability because it is not too difficult to bowl with a remodelled action in the nets, where the pressure element is zilch. How well and how repeatedly can he replicate that in a match will be the main question. With regard to patience, Narine will need to stick it out for a while before he gets convinced and convinces others that his efficacy is not compromised. Besides, in the T20 format, the bowlers are under the pump and as such, it is so easy to relapse into old ways. The one advantage Narine has is that he will be bowling on responsive tracks apart from the fact that he is a very composed individual.

KKR have roped in an unknown quantity in Cariappa, who is similar to Narine. The youngster trained with them during the Champions League and convinced the decision makers in KKR enough that he had to be bought. Whether he will get a game is something only time can tell, but he is another player everyone will be keen to watch in the IPL. It was rather odd that Cariappa did not figure in the Karnataka State T20 squad, but then, it is not mandatory for two different groups of people to think alike.

Cariappa gained entry into a big stage like the IPL in the blink of an eye, but as he gets into the journey, he will realise that life is not a bed of roses, always.

There have been quite a few transfers, with teams shedding and adding players, but that is not really going to change the face of the IPL. Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings will play an exciting brand of cricket that attract loads of fans, while Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils will be keen to convert the collective talent in their squad into performance.

Sunrisers Hyderabad have bolstered their side a wee bit and it remains to be seen how David Warner shapes up as a captain. RR will continue to be the purists’ delight with their conventional approach and commitment. Mumbai Indians made amends towards the end of the last IPL and I am curious to see their methods this season under the new coach, Ricky Ponting. Excitement will be the constant factor in the IPL, but as far as the players and the teams go, there is bound to be a lot of ups and downs during the course of the tournament.